Okay, so panic is a bit of a strong word, but you get the gist, right? The Bears began the season by winning seven out of their first eight games. The only loss during that period was to the Green Bay Packers, which is understandable. They then went on to lose against the 49ers and the Houston Texans, which were also tough matchups that I had them as losing at the beginning of the year. After bouncing back with a 28-10 victory over the Vikings, the Bears now find themselves sitting at 8-4 following a tough overtime loss to the Seahawks.
So, with the defense now pretty banged up and not looking anywhere near as good as they did at the beginning of the year; and an offense that pretty much revolves around Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and nothing else, do the Bears need to be concerned heading into the last part of the regular season?
This week sees them take on the Vikings again in what needs to be seen as a must win game. Slipping to 8-5 with a game against the Packers around the corner would put them in a really tough position and even though their last two matchups are against Arizona and Detroit, they really can't afford to lose games against teams like Minnesota.
The Vikings main threat remains running back Adrian Peterson who should receive comeback player of the year, coming off a big ACL injury that many thought would hinder his ability. That hasn't been the case and he leads the league in rushing yards with 1446. After looking good earlier in the season, the play of Vikings quarterback, Christian Ponder has greatly diminished, and with wide receiver Percy Harvin ruled out, the Bears shouldn't have too many problems with the Vikings' offense.
Defense is another matter entirely, and we saw what defensive end Jared Allen is capable of when the two teams faced off a couple of weeks ago. Bears left tackle J'Marcus Webb is going to have to be on top of his game, and I'd like to think they give him a little help in taking on one of the NFL's premier pass rushers.
The loss to the Seahawks last week was hard to watch, primarily because it forced us to ask questions about a Bears defense that has looked so dominant up till now. Is age catching up with them? Have they pushed too hard and are now running out of steam? They were dealt a further blow when it was announced that Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher would miss this weeks game, and possibly the rest of the season. Chicago will also be without stand out cornerback Tim Jennings who looks likely to miss the game against Minnesota as well.
Ok, here goes. My hat of positivity is going to make a rare appearance here as I put it on and predict the outcome for Chicago's remaining games. They will win against Minnesota, lose to Green Bay (sorry, but reality is so hard to fight, sometimes) then win the last two against the Cardinals and the Lions. That will leave the Bears with an 11-5 record which is where I had them at the beginning of the year -- it was either that or 10-6; I can't remember how negative I was feeling when I did it.
The trouble is, I see the Packers ending with the same record, and if I'm right and they beat us next week, they will clinch the division, so that will leave the Bears looking for a wild card spot. At 11-5 they should be okay, but this is the NFL, and anything can happen, right?
However, they can't afford another slip up like the one against the Seahawks. Imagine, just for awful second that they somehow lose against the Cardinals? Stranger things have happened, but the Bears need to make sure they wins games like that, and win them convincingly.
So, is it time to man the panic stations in the windy city? Not just yet, but any more slip ups and I'll be personally leading the charge.